The Micranots at 7th St Entry, 3/30/13

The Micranots reunion
With Mundo Libre, I.B.E., Meta, Greg Grease and Muja Messiah

7th St Entry, Minneapolis
Saturday, March 30, 2013

It was a historic night at the Entry as the legendary DJ Kool Akiem and I Self Devine once again joined forces after a decade to become the Micranots, the pioneering rap group that left an immense footprint on the local hip-hop scene. There was an air of excitement surrounding the sold out show as long-time fans co-mingled with younger heads who knew the history but had missed the chance to see the group in its heyday.

See Also:
Micranots rise again: After nearly a decade apart, I Self Devine and DJ Kool Akiem talk about their seminal album, Obelisk Movements
The Micranots: 10 Years after Return of the Travellahs

Opening the show were solo sets from each member of TUSS Music (Akrite, I.B.E. and Greg Grease), as well as Meta and a quick song from host Muja Messiah. I.B.E. and Akrite have put in time as I Self Devine's backing rappers since he remerged onto the scene and were a natural fit; their sets showcased their skills with solo performances as well as with some tried and true crowd hyping techniques. Meta was introduced by Muja Messiah as one of the best rappers in the nation, leaving him with something to live up to, and he nailed it with precise vocals and mic control.

Greg Grease came out to spit the smooth side of meticulously written rhymes which populated his breakout Cornbread, Pearl and G, and the culmination of the four openers was a prime example of the Minneapolis hip-hop sound that was built in the wake of the Micranots absence. All parties present matched and expanded upon the blueprints of the tightly crafted and expertly performed lyrics and production that the headlining forefathers laid down in their work so many years ago. These were apt openers, who all represented the new face of Minneapolis as way of introducing the ones who got us here. 

When Kool Akiem made his entrance began spinning, complete with a flashlight pinky ring, it was clear a duo of seasoned pros was up next. As he briefly spun and juggled a few breakbeats, I Self Devine slowly emerged to cheers and raised hands. Highlighting that several of the songs we'd hear have never been performed before, the unique aspects of this particular event unfolded. Opening with "Farward," a peek into the future where war and political struggle are accelerated and hip-hop struggles to maintain its former power, it became hard to believe it'd been nearly ten years since the song was originally released.

Every track they went through sounded remarkably fresh and lyrically poignant, displaying just how influential and ahead of their time the Micranots truly were. "Illegal Busyness," which recently got video treatment, still punches with the cataloging of the international drug industry. "How many of ya'll smoke?" I Self said, introducing the song. Many cheered. "How many of ya'll get your drink on?" Still more cheering. "Alright, now who does some extra shit?"  Some stifled cheers led into the string of drug chorus that perfectly sums up the Micranots' best strengths: straddling politically charged gritty lyrics with a mainstream appeal and a heavily sampled bounce underneath. 

As the set continued, tracks that incorporated heavy crowd response like "All Live" and an excellent take on Run DMC's "Here We Go" (complete with Akiem's classically-styled beat juggle of "Big Beat") showcased the group's grasp of old school technical ability and the burgeoning sound of the underground, which Obelisk Movements really helped to define. Fans got a glimpse of some Micranots material when Kool Akiem joined I Self Devine for a few songs at one of his four mixtape release shows also in the Entry, and it brought attention to the differences in I Self's style during his various stages of development.

"I was on some shit when I was young," he said with a laugh. "Shit is hella motherfuckin' dense like a pound cake." His flow has slowed and tightly crammed ideas and motifs have spread out in his most recent solo material, and he pointed out how he used to be more concerned with creating tense political material as an ideal he'd liked to live up to. 

Still, he attacked this material as though it were fresh, and it certainly sounded that way. Every word was hit with perfect timing and emphasis, and the chemistry between I Self and Akiem was bold and powerful. I.B.E. did back-ups and especially helped on amping vocals and building tension. Budah Tye even came out for a couple of his guest spots, including "Balance" which was a definite highlight. The energy level managed to never dip no matter what song they worked through.

Plenty of the front row populace knew all the words by heart, and I Self interacted with them with his brand of straight-faced humor. It was a deftly performed long set with no cracks in the seam to imply that the group had ever stood apart. It was a great breathing reminder of why Obelisk Movements stands as such an underground masterpiece and maintains the influence it has had over the years. This show is going to be difficult to top.

The Crowd: Hardcore rap fans of all ages and proclivities. 

Random Notebook Dump: I Self's description of why the spraypaint color Flat Black is his favorite was priceless and poignant.

Overheard in the Crowd: "I never thought this would happen! I used to bump this album constantly!"


Illegal Busyness
All Live
Here We Go
141 Million Miles
On The Rise
Flat Black
I Like It
Mother's Day
Grand Imperial
The WIllie Lynch
Body Rock 
58 Perfectly Angled Facets
Can't Live Without You
Mourning In America
Pitch Black Ark

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